We’d wasted a lot of time trying to exchange that gas bottle in Gothenburg, only to learn that the bottle wasn’t actually empty – just somehow had the valve turned off. We hit the motorway with a mission. We wanted to meet our friend’s for dinner – but they too have young children, which means an early dinner. Fortunately it was easy driving, and we were doing a decent pace.
As we drove north, the rain that had been threatening all day finally started. We had wanted to visit Marstrand, but decided to instead focus on Smögen, as it sounded a prettier, and was slightly less of a detour.
On paper, it looked like a minor detour from the motorway. In reality, it was a small dual lane road, with a constant stream of cars in both directions. It was certainly popular, and I was starting to be worried.
Thankfully it looked like we were catching the tail end of the daily tourists, as the traffic seemed to mostly be headed back towards the motorway – the rain and wind that has been steadily getting heavier also helped drive people away. We found a park easy enough in the centre of town, and went to go explore this cute little village.
We crossed a large bridge into town, and got a glimpse of beautiful red boathouses huddled together for shelter amongst the rocky archipelago. Arriving in town was something a little different from a perfect postcard view. There was a crush of souvenir, tour, and clothing stores with their advertising and displays. It felt like being in an open mall – and the haphazard walking of the other tourists didn’t help with enjoyment. Grumble. I felt a little cheated. This isn’t what I wanted to come see.
We had a little more time on the parking, and had already given up trying to meet our friends early, so we continued to walk along the harbour, hoping to find something a little prettier. I’m glad we did, because eventually the shops disappeared, as did the tourists, and we were left with a handful of colourful little boathouses filling the end of the harbour. Who knows, maybe during the day they are also souvenir shops, but we’d just been lucky with timing!
I’d wanted to fly the drone, but the wind was strong and gusty, so it stayed in my backpack.
I also wanted to see more of the rocky islands, and in a blind optimistic hope, followed footpaths towards walking trails. We came to a sort of rocky outcrop, with views of the hundreds of small rocky islands that make up this part of the country.
And then the rain finally started to intensify – and we were about the furthest we could be from our car. Thankfully we both had rain coats on, so we calmly made our way back to the safety of our van.
On the drive into Smögen the bridge into town was gridlock, but now that we were leaving, it was nearly empty. I found a park on the other side of the bridge, and walked back across (in the lashing rain) for a better look at my first glimpse of this town – which was far prettier than the centre of town.
The rain continued to lash our car with surprising intensity. It was probably some of the heaviest rain we’ve had, and continued for most of the way to Daftö
Our friend’s parent’s have a cabin (actually two) in a small little community on a small island in the north of Sweden – Daft Island, which looks funny written in English, and makes me wish there was a Punkö (ö is Island). We were incredibly lucky to arrive while our friends and their family were still enjoying their summer vacation here – and that they had space for us to join them for a few days.
We were late arriving, so we got to quickly see the kids before they were shuffled off to bed. Runar had been busy preparing pizza, and we devoured three of them in a most gluttonous fashion – we probably should have eaten more in Gothenburg! They were cooked on a pizza stone inside a gas BBQ, and the results were perfect.
We were also tired, and weren’t too far behind the kids going to bed.
The terrible weather from last night had blown away, and we had patchy sunshine. I woke up first, accidentally waking the kids, too. But they quickly went to spend time with their grandparents in their nearby cabin leaving me to work on my computer in peace.
We feasted on a variety of Norwegian breads and cheeses for breakfast, then made our way to the small harbour on the other side of the island. We couldn’t believe that Runar’s parents have a small fishing boat that we could go out and explore the archipelago with. The maritime laws here in Sweden allow anyone to captain a ship this size, so there was no problem with his young son taking to the wheel – for about 2 minutes, until he got bored and came and joined us in the front. The girls were going to drive and meet us at the beach later on.
It was beautiful to cruise through these waterways, seeing the small huts on the rocky shoreline, in small pockets of clearing inside the pine forests. The sun was warm, and the water was like a lake.
We even passed by Ross Island (Rossö), and I waved to my subjects. Easily the most attractive of the islands that we passed by today…
Once we got into a more open area in the harbour, the fish finder was switched on, and we tried our luck attempting to catch something for lunch. Midday on a sunny day isn’t probably the best time to be fishing, and we left empty handed.
We moored just off Salt Island (Saltö) just as the sunshine was being devoured by the clouds. The warmth we’d enjoyed so far this morning had completely disappeared, and in an effort to stay warm, we left our life jackets on once safely back on land. Needless to say, there was no chance I was going swimming, even if the water was of a moderate temperature.
The girls arrived and joined us for a small picnic. Their daughter is braver than I am, and went in for a swim – though, I like to think of it as being more naïve than me, not knowing what nice swimming temperatures are, and being happy to settle for any opportunity she gets.
We admitted defeat, and returned back to their cabin in Daftö. As you could guess, the clouds passed overhead, and we once again had sunshine for the return boat ride. It was a little unfortunate with the timing, but at least we had nice weather for the return trip.
The rest of the afternoon was perfect, with warm temperatures and truly clear skies.
If we hadn’t already been spoilt enough, our friends wanted to take us out to dinner. We were supposed to go last night, but since we arrived late (it was only 7:30PM, but the kids had to go to bed), we moved it to tonight. We went to nearby Strömstad for a seafood feast.
We ordered like we hadn’t seen food in a week, with a bowl of mussels in a rich white wine sauce, a delicious seafood soup (from a man that doesn’t much care for seafood), and an enormous seafood local/fresh seafood platter for Risa – which she did share with me.
After our early dinner, Brigitte took the kids home, allowing us to wander around the seaside town – and get ice cream. It’s a pretty old town, that must have been quite grand in the past.
Our friends in Gothenburg had joked that Norwegians owned all the properties in this part of Sweden, and looking at all the cars in town, it seemed like it was quite true – I can’t judge by the language or the looks, so this is what I need to rely on! Though, with sunshine, pretty islands, and delicious seafood, I don’t blame the sun-starved Norwegians for coming down here for their vacations!
Our friends were leaving and headed north to his home town for the rest of their vacation. We weren’t originally going to go north first, but rather follow the south coast around to the west, and then eventually make our way towards where his parents live. But, it was too great an opportunity to miss, so we also decided to head north and spend a little more time together.
We packed, and were about to leave and noticed that the gas had run out again. I went and checked the valve, and confirmed, and triple checked that the valve was definitely open. Frustratingly, we’d run out, and would have to attempt to find another shop to get a replacement from.
Then, as a kick while I was down, the alternator belt started to squeal…
We stopped at the nearby caravan park (with literally hundreds of motorhomes/caravans), however they didn’t have gas bottles. I took the opportunity to tighten the alternator, however, it looked like the bottom bold had fallen out, and would need to be replaced.
So, we limped into Strömstad and attempted to fix both these problems at a hardware store. I managed to find a 140mm M10 bolt for the bottom mount, and the alternator is connected properly once again.
The gas bottle was a whole different challenge… They didn’t want to take our bottle, since it wasn’t a Swedish/Norwegian bottle, but rather one that we’d bought in Italy. I gave up trying, and started to drive to Norway – I’ll sort it out there, we didn’t have anything important in the fridge, and the temperatures aren’t high.